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Updating the Inventory of Zanzibar Leopard Specimens

Updating the Inventory of Zanzibar Leopard Specimens

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Published by Martin Walsh
Walsh, M. T. & Goldman, H. V. 2008. Updating the Inventory of Zanzibar Leopard Specimens. CAT News (Newsletter of the IUCN/SSC Cat Specialist Group), 49 (Autumn 2008): 4-6.
Walsh, M. T. & Goldman, H. V. 2008. Updating the Inventory of Zanzibar Leopard Specimens. CAT News (Newsletter of the IUCN/SSC Cat Specialist Group), 49 (Autumn 2008): 4-6.

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Categories:Types, Research, Science
Published by: Martin Walsh on Nov 29, 2009
Copyright:Traditional Copyright: All rights reserved


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 Autumn 2008
Updating the Inventory of Zanzibar Leopard Specimens
Martin T. Walsh
and Helle V. Goldman
he Zanzibar leopard
 Pan-thera pardus adersi 
was oncewidespread on the IndianOcean island of Unguja (Zanzibar,Tanzania), but most authorities nowconsider it to be extinct, or very ne-arly so (Anonymous 1997, Goldman& Walsh 2002). This little-known en-demic has never been studied in thewild, and our knowledge of it there-fore rests largely on historical andethnographic reports (Goldman &Walsh 1997, Walsh & Goldman 2007)and the physical evidence of museumspecimens.
Despite a history of vigorous persecu-tion, material from Zanzibar leopardsis almost as elusive as proof of their survival into the present. Recognizingits potential importance for genetic andother research, we have compiled dataon known specimens and the historyof their collection, including informa-tion on material that has been seen or reported outside of museums. The fol-lowing notes summarize our findings todate.
Museum specimens
The standard work on the mammals of Zanzibar (Pakenham 1984) mentionsonly four museum specimens. In thecourse of investigating these, however,we were shown another two, bringingthe total number to six. They are listed below by museum and date of accessi-on, together with our current understan-ding of their provenance:
The Natural History Museum (former-ly British Museum), London
1. Skin and skull of a young adult male[BM]. This came from thevicinity of Chwaka on the east coastof Unguja, and was sent to the muse-um in 1919 by Dr. William MansfieldAders, who held the post of EconomicBiologist in the Zanzibar Protectorate.It was subsequently described by Po-cock (1932) as the type of 
 P. p. adersi
.His photograph of the skin was alsoreproduced in a paper by Dobroruka(1965), disputing the identification of the subspecies as an island endemic.2. Skin of an unsexed animal [BM29.4.1.1]. This was presented to themuseum in early 1929 by John HenryVaughan, who was an administrativeofficer in Zanzibar and sent many birdspecimens to the British Museum.Correspondence between Vaughanand Reginald Pocock later in 1929 in-dicates that the latter had already deci-ded to refer this and Aders’s specimento a new subspecies. Both specimensare also discussed by Pakenham(1984) but there are no photographs of Vaughan’s skin in the literature.3. Skin of an unsexed animal, pro- bably immature [BM (NH) 84.2100].This was donated to the museum byA. D. Ingrams in 1984, too late to beincluded in Pakenham’s study, whichappeared in the same year. DouglasIngrams served as an Agricultural Of-ficer in Zanzibar in 1925-27, but thespecimen label indicates that it wascollected by his brother, William Ha-rold Ingrams (1897-1973), who helda series of administrative posts in theProtectorate between 1919 and 1933,and referred to the Zanzibar leopard inhis books (1931, 1942). There are no published descriptions or photographsof this headless and tailless skin.
 Harvard Museum of Comparative Zo-ology, Cambridge, Massachusetts
4. Skin and skull of a female [MCZ36709] (Fig. 1). This specimen origi-nated in Bungi, south-east of Zanzibar town. It was collected in 1937 by Ailsa Nicol Smith, Curator of the Zanzibar Museum (1935-42), and given to Dr.Thomas Barbour, the Director of theHarvard Museum, where it was regi-stered on 30 March 1938. Pakenhamseems to have been unaware of thisspecimen, and there are no descriptionsof it in the literature. A colour photo-graph of the skin (alongside MCZ40953, which is on the left) is reprodu-ced in Walsh & Goldman (2007).5. Skin and skull of a female [MCZ40953] (Fig.
1). This leopard wastrapped “by natives” and shot at Fum- ba, south of Zanzibar town. R. H. W.
Fig. 1.
Zanzibar leopard skins at the Harvard Museum of ComparativeZoology: MCZ 40953 (left) and MCZ 36709 right (Photo J. Winther-Hansen).
5Pakenham’s unpublished natural hi-story notebooks (1929–56) record thatthis specimen was sent by the Zanzi- bar District Commissioner to the Cu-rator of the Zanzibar Museum, Ailsa Nicol Smith, who then forwarded it tohim on 11 July 1939. Pakenham sentthe specimen to Harvard, where it wasregistered on 22 June 1940. RichardHercules Wingfield Pakenham joinedthe administrative service in Zanzibar in 1929 and was Senior Commissioner when he retired in 1956, after whichhe continued to research and publishon Zanzibar’s wildlife. Comparison of the picture of this leopard skin in Pa-kenham (1984) with that in Walsh &Goldman (2007) indicates that it hasdeteriorated considerably since it wasfirst photographed.
 Zanzibar Museum (formerly also Peace Memorial Museum), Zanzibar 
6. Much-faded mounted skin, sexunknown, in a display case with driedgrasses and an unattributed photographof a leopard trap [Z 1209] (Fig. 2).The original label (now replaced)stated that this leopard was shot atKisakasaka, south of Zanzibar town, by the Hon. W. Grazebrook, M.C.,and was presented by him to the mu-seum together with the case. WilliamGrazebrook was a businessman andlong-term resident of Zanzibar whoserved on the Legislative Council in1926-31. There is a colour photographof this specimen in Walsh & Goldman(2007).We have issued requests relating tothe Zanzibar leopard in NatSCA News(the newsletter of The Natural SciencesCollections Association) and other pu- blications, but have not located any mu-seum specimens other than the six listedabove.
Other material
All of the museum specimens that wehave identified were collected in the firsthalf of the 20th century, during the Bri-tish colonial period. We know that signi-ficant numbers of leopards were killedin the second half of the century, manyof them in a government-sanctionedcampaign of leopard extermination that began after the Zanzibar Revolution of 1964 (Walsh & Goldman 2007). Whathappened to all of the skins? In the1970s at least some of them were de-livered to the state shoe factory, which processed hides and skins (Halsted1979), but their ultimate destination isobscure. Some pieces of skin and other leopard body parts believed to havemagico-medicinal properties must haveremained in Zanzibar (see below). Lo-cal leopard skins that found their wayonto the international market were pre-sumably mixed up with others fromEast Africa and the Horn. It is possiblethat complete skins found their way into private collections, but we have no evi-dence for this at present.When we began our research on theZanzibar leopard in the mid-1990s weoccasionally heard of skins being offeredfor sale by local hunters, and of some being taken to the African mainland or the Persian Gulf (Marshall 1994, Selkow1995, Goldman & Walsh 1997, Palmer 2005). In his dissertation for the Col-lege of African Wildlife Management atMweka, Khamis A. Khamis (1995) clai-med that he had photographed the skinand claws of a Zanzibar leopard killed(at an unspecified location) in Septem- ber 1993, having paid for permission todo so. At least eleven leopards are re- ported to have been killed in Zanzibar in1993 (Goldman & Walsh 2002), and itis not possible using available records todetermine which if any of these Khamiswas referring to. We also do not knowthe current whereabouts of his photo-graph.The only leopard skin that we haveseen ourselves outside of a museum aretwo rectangular pieces in the possessionof the former Secretary of the Zanzibar  National Hunters (Wasasi wa Kitaifa),who assisted us in our research in July1996. These two fragments were saidto have been taken from a leopard thatwas killed by hunters at Muyuni, on thesouth-west coast of Unguja, in 1986.Photographs of the two pieces that ap- peared in our original report (Goldman& Walsh 1997) were later lost in theoffices of the Jozani-Chwaka Bay Con-servation Project (JCBCP), but picturesof one of the pieces (Fig. 3) survivedand have been used in subsequent pu- blications (the pdf version of the reportand Walsh & Goldman 2007).A number of Zanzibari huntersclaim to be able to identify leopard fae-ces, but efforts to collect and preservespecimens for later analysis have so far 
Fig. 2.
Mounted Zanzibar leopard in the Zanzibar Museum (Z 1209) (Photo J. Winther-Hansen).
Fig. 3.
Fragment of Zanzibar leopard skin inthe possession of the former Secretary of theZanzibar National Hunters, 1996 (Photo H.V. Goldman).

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